School of Music


Doctor of Worship Studies (DWS)


Douglas Anthony


urban church, multicultural worship, hip-hop subculture, ethnomusicology


Liturgy and Worship | Music


The urban environments of American cities are home to diverse cultures and subcultures. If God created humanity in His image, and if the gospel of Jesus Christ has transcending power, then urban churches are poised to become worship communities that reflect His creativity and redemption. However, the ideal of unity in diversity strives against the currents of homogenization in American history, church traditions, and human nature. This project brings attention to a subculture that makes its home in the urban environments of American cities but not in its churches: hip-hop should be counted among the diverse cultures that can uniquely reflect God in worship. This mixed-methods research project includes an ethnographic analysis of local hip-hop scenes and 72 local hip-hop songs. One survey evaluates the state of hip-hop in 17 Cleveland churches, while another survey compares experiences with hip-hop and worship among 72 local churchgoers. Interviews of local leaders inform the process of liturgical change. This project challenges status quos in urban churches and corporate worship, and it celebrates hip-hop subculture for its artistic and ideological contributions to the multicultural worship of God’s people.